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Funding support announced for bingo venues

By Kyle Ritchie

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Independent bingo halls are set to receive funding support to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.

The venues in the north-east can now apply for grants of up to £50,000.

Troup councillor Mark Findlater voiced his concerns locally after the industry had received little assistance over the past year.

The Bingo Association in Scotland launched its Bingo is my Lifeline campaign to highlight the issue.

Mr Findlater wrote to the finance secretary Kate Forbes urging her to grant a similar level of discretionary funding that independent cinema has received.

He made the call after it emerged Fraserburgh was one of 19 such halls in line to have received nothing from the Scottish Government, along with Buckie, Elgin and Inverness, while similar outlets like cinemas had obtained funding.

Staff costs are being met by the UK Government’s furlough scheme but independent organisers across Scotland said there has been nothing for the fabric and maintenance since doors shut in March last year.

They are anticipated to reopen on May 17 after spending the bulk of 14 months behind shutters.

Funding support has been announced for bingo venues.
Funding support has been announced for bingo venues.

Mr Findlater highlighted the vital role bingo plays in many people’s lives.

And he said “a bit of fairness” will decrease social isolation and help the local community.

He wrote: “For many people, bingo is a vital social activity. The game is almost secondary to that, but the place and the welcoming, friendly environment still needs to be there.

“Without support for places like Broch bingo then we may see them fold.

“That is inconsistent with current thinking now: that isolation can be worse for older people’s health than a number of more readily appreciated conditions.

“A bit of fairness for the Broch, for the north-east, will go a long way to keeping our communities connected and social.”

Following the announcement that independent bingo halls can now bid for grants of up to £50,000, he added: "This is a welcome about-turn after a year with little support for this industry.

"It is better late than never and I am sure the volume of correspondence received has loudly made the case for local bingo."

Chief executive officer of The Bingo Association in Scotland Miles Baron said: "As a result of thousands of bingo players responding to our call for support, the Bingo Association in Scotland has recently been informed that our Bingo is my Lifeline campaign has been successful, and all licensed bingo clubs in Scotland will receive a one-off grant in recognition of the challenges caused by their sustained closure over the last year."

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